Fishing in Puntarenas Costa Rica

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Fishing in Puntarenas Costa Rica

Arriving in Puntarenas Costa Rica

Viking Neptune Docked in Puntarenas waiting for us to boardWe arrived in Puntarenas, Costa, at 6 am on New  Year’s Day.   Today’s adventure would be fishing in Costa Rica, which Bob had been looking forward to for months since booking the trip on Fishing Booker.  Joshua, another passenger, was joining us, so there would be three of us on the boat, which was good as we were going on a 26’ Panga-style boat with a small 115-hp engine and a canopy top.

Joshua, Bob, and I headed down the gangway just after 6:30 a.m. and walked the long pier to the main harbor road.  We were looking for a taxi to take us the 1 ½ miles to the meeting point with our Captain and boat.  A taxi came by within just a few minutes.  The town had celebrated the evening before, as evidenced by the New Year’s Eve party trash on the streets.  As we drove towards the harbor to meet our Captain, we saw many people had camped on the beach for the night and were going to continue their celebration during the day.

When we arrived, Captain Jose and his mate were fishing for bait a few yards off the beach.  We waved to him, and they quickly pulled in their lines and maneuvered the panga to the beach.  We took off our shoes and waded to the boat.  This was going to be an exciting day for sure.  There were no fancy boats with fighting chairs; we would fish like the locals today.

Our Costa Rican Fishing Adventure Begins:

As we headed out towards the Gulf of Nicoya, dotted with small, lush green islands, we found the water choppy as we bounced towards deeper water. Puntarenas Light House as we head out in the morning sun After we passed a few more islands, the water calmed down a bit, and we continued for about forty-five minutes.  Bob hoped to catch a roosterfish, so we headed to an area where rooster fishing was supposed to be good. The mate baited the trolling lines, and we proceeded to troll around the area, looking for the roosters.  This was my queue to put on my Airpods, crank up the music, and find a shady spot to lay back and relax.  I do my best fishing this way.  After an hour of fishing but not catching rosterfish, the captain decided to try for grouper and snappers, so we headed to a different area.  The depth in this vast bay area was between 100-400 feet as it neared the ocean.

Yeah, we started catching fish:

Gold gilled grouper - Joshua fishing in Puntarenas Costa RicaThe captain stopped the boat, and they changed the rigging and added bait, dropping the lines down to the bottom 200’ below.  Within minutes, a fish was on the line, and they handed Bob the rod to bring it in.  It took several minutes to reel the fish as the rod bent over.  Bob successfully brought the fish on board.  He had caught two, a Gold Gill Grouper and a Red Snapper in one haul. Within minutes, another fish was on, and Joshua took the line and brought up his two fish.  Fish came in pairs in this area.  We were all delighted that we were catching fish.  Next up, it was my turn, and I also brought in a good-sized grouper. The guys caught a few more groupers and snappers before we headed to a different area to try to catch Mahi Mahi.  Along the way, Captain Jose sliced up one of the groupers and made ceviche using limes and Worcestershire sauce to cook the fish.  This was our lunch – it was definately fresh.  They offered soft drinks, beer, water soft drinks, and rum if we wanted.  We were also offered fresh fruit, but we declined for now.

Slack tide approached, but the fish took a siesta:

Off we went to catch Mahi Mahi with no luck.  Towards the early afternoon, we went to a series of large rock islandsRock Islands Puntarenas Costa Rica called First Islands, where the guys took turns trying to cast into the surf near the islands to catch Mahi Mahi, roosters, or any other fish that may be around.  The captain tried valiantly to catch us more fish, but the tide was nearly slack, and although we could see a lot of small tuna and other fish jumping around us in the water, they weren’t biting.

 No fish but plenty of monkeys:

Around 1 o’clock, the captain asked the guys to reel in their lines. Off we went in the direction of a sizeable tree-covered island.  The mate started to cut up a watermelon, offering us all slices.  It was delicious, and after Marilyn enjoying a delicious piece of watermelonfinishing my piece, I asked the captain what I should do with the rind.  He told me to wait just a minute as we approached the shoreline.  He showed us a monkey up in the tree and said many spider monkeys were on the island.  He then threw my rind and other watermelon pieces onto the rocks along the shoreline.  Within seconds, dozens of monkeys came running down from the trees onto the rocks and began retrieving the watermelon we had thrown to them.  They gathered and devoured the watermelon, a delicious treat for them.  Another boater anchored nearby and backed down his boat to join us in feedingA spider monkey family the monkeys as their kids watched on and laughed.

We never imagined feeding monkeys while trying to catch fish, but this was Costa Rica, which is famous for many different types of monkeys, including Spider and Howler Monkeys.  After getting lots of great pictures of the monkeys, we headed back to the town.  I think this is a regular occurrence and a fun way to end our day of fishing in Puntarenas, Costa Rica.

Heading back to the ship:

As we arrived back at the beach, we jumped onto the sand from the boat and bid farewell to the captain and mate after paying the balance of our fee and a tip.  It was a fabulous day; we spent it on the beautiful Costa Rican waters, taking in the beauty of the water, islands, and coastline, catching a few fish, and hanging with the monkeys.  What could be better?

There were no taxis when we walked up to the street, so we decided to walk the mile and three-quarters back to the ship along the coastline road.  The streets were crowded with locals out celebrating the new year, and there was lots of street food available along our walk.  I would have enjoyed some local food, but the guys wanted to get back to the ship, so we didn’t make any stops and got back in a little less than 30 minutes of walking.  We were hungry and hot, so we headed to the pool grill for a late lunch and a swim in the main deck pool.


What a fun day fishing in Puntarenas Costa Rica!

Bob with his first catch of the day - Fishing in Puntarenas Costa Rica








Excursions Available when visiting Puntarenas, Costa Rica

Eco-Bike Adventure Duration: 5.00 Hours

Cycle Through Lush Green Landscapes — Enjoy an invigorating cycle ride on this nature bike trail to explore the beautiful scenery of Costa Rica. The ride begins on a flat, partially paved road to the intersection of Bajamar. Begin your journey and admire the stunning landscapes and the flora and fauna as you pass cattle ranches and the wildlife in this wetland area. Keep your eyes peeled for the various species of magnificent water birds, such as egrets and herons. Cycle through the rolling hills, with plenty of chances to stop and photograph the lovely flowers and incredible views along the way. Your tour guide will provide a commentary on the landscape and nature highlights as you encounter them. Stop for refreshments at a local dwelling and enjoy a delicious buffet of tropical fruits before rejoining the motor coach and transferring back to your awaiting ship.

Monteverde Cloud Forest Aerial Tram & Hanging Bridges Duration: 7.75 Hours

Encounter Costa Rica’s Fascinating Biodiversity and Natural Beauty — An important wildlife refuge, the Monteverde Cloud Forest is a rare type of forest in high-altitude tropical or subtropical environments, where the atmospheric conditions allow for consistent cloud cover. It is home to many mammal, bird, insect, and plant species, including the world’s largest number of orchids. Upon arrival, board the aerial tram, then begin your ascent through the cloud forest, admiring sweeping views of your surroundings. Afterward, follow your knowledgeable guide on a nature walk to the first of four suspended bridges that cover over half a mile of verdant terrain and rise to 126 feet above the ground. After your treetop adventure, you will enjoy a delicious Costa Rican-style buffet lunch before returning to your ship.

Puntarenas Panorama Duration: 2.50 Hours

Take a Scenic Ride Along the Stunning Nicoya Peninsula — Get acquainted with Costa Rica’s natural and cultural gifts on this scenic ride along the Nicoya Peninsula. The largest peninsula in the country, this idyllic region is known for its beautiful beaches and is a popular destination for visitors. Your sightseeing drive begins east to Esparza, a picturesque town founded in 1574 by the Spanish now known for its hardworking people. Local dancers dressed in traditional costumes will greet you at the city park, and you will also have time to browse among the crafts stalls for the perfect handmade souvenir of your trip. Riding along the deep blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, take in magnificent views of pristine beaches, ride past mango farms and cashew plantations, admire rural homes and bucolic gardens, and keep an eye out for the many species of colorful birdlife.

Jungle Boat & Crocodile Safari

Costa Rican Wildlife in Its Unique Natural Habitat — Your adventure unfolds near the Carara National Park on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. The Tarcoles Estuary is noted for its mangrove forests, and the mouth of the Tárcoles River is considered one of the richest sites for seabirds and shorebirds. Keep your eyes peeled for the cuckoo, hummingbirds, Panama flycatchers, and many herons and egrets that live here. Be sure to watch the shoreline for iguanas and lizards as well. The riverbanks are home to a large crocodile colony, with some reptiles measuring nearly ten feet in length. Before returning to your ship, you will also have the chance to visit the El Jardín market. You can browse for mementos, sample delicious tropical fruit, or taste Costa Rican coffee before returning to your ship.

The Story of Starbucks Coffee From Field to Cup Duration: 7.00 Hours

Learn About Sustainable Coffee Farming at the Hacienda Alsacia — From its humble start as a single storefront in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, Starbucks has grown into one of the world’s most recognizable coffee brands. An industry innovator, the company bought its first coffee farm—the Hacienda Alsacia—in 2013 with the goal of ensuring the future of coffee production. Your guided tour of the facility will allow you to view the coffee bean’s journey from the field to the cup, from the working tree nursery and micro wet mill to the drying patio and roaster. Visit the on-site café, where you can sample freshly roasted brews and explore the range of gifts. Afterward, enjoy a tasty Costa Rican lunch at a local restaurant before returning to your awaiting ship.

A Walk in the Clouds Duration: 6.50 Hours

Explore the Cloud Forest Along Suspended Aerial Walkways — Discover Costa Rica’s cloud forest biodiversity along beautiful trails and suspended bridges amid the tree canopy. The tour starts with a short downhill walk that leads to an open hummingbird garden, where many species of these tiny, brightly colored birds gather around and amaze you with their spectacular acrobatic maneuvers. Then, the more adventurous portion of this tour commences as you arrive at the first of four suspended bridges that cover over half a mile of verdant terrain and rise to 126 feet above the ground. As you continue your way over rivers and cascades, your senses will be delighted as your naturalist guide points out the most outstanding features of this misty forest. Look for many species of birds, butterflies small mammals, and flora such as orchids, heliconias, ferns, bromeliads, and more.

Natuwa Wildlife Sanctuary Duration: 4.75 Hours

Sanctuary for Endangered Local Flora and Fauna — A conservation charity, this wildlife refuge is home to a variety of native flora and fauna that is in danger of vanishing due to human actions. The sanctuary has a designated area where the orphaned animals continue their life in the most natural environment possible, surrounded by native trees of different species. Embark on a scenic drive through the Costa Rican countryside to the refuge. Upon arrival, you will take a short walk, stopping at other observation stations to view the resident animals. Keep your eyes peeled for sloths, jaguars, tapirs, monkeys, macaws, and more that inhabit the sanctuary while listening to a local expert give insight into these extraordinary animals. Afterward, enjoy a refreshing snack before returning to your ship.


Puntarenas Costa Rica:  History, Geography and Culture


Puntarenas, located on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, has a rich history dating back to the pre-Columbian era. Before the arrival of the Spanish, the region was inhabited by various indigenous groups, including the Chorotega people. The Spanish explorer Juan de Castilla first landed in the area in 1519, marking the beginning of European influence.

During the colonial period, Puntarenas served as a crucial port for the shipment of coffee and other goods. The city’s strategic location facilitated trade and contributed to its economic importance. In the 19th century, the construction of a railway connecting the Central Valley to the Pacific coast further boosted Puntarenas’ significance as a major transportation hub.

Over the years, Puntarenas experienced economic ups and downs, influenced by factors such as changes in transportation routes and the development of other ports. Today, it remains an essential center for maritime commerce and tourism.


Puntarenas is situated on a narrow strip of land on the Pacific Ocean, offering stunning coastal views and access to various beaches. The province is characterized by a diverse geography that includes mountains, plains, and coastal areas. The Gulf of Nicoya, a large inlet of the Pacific Ocean, lies to the north of Puntarenas and is a crucial geographical feature.

The region’s climate is typically tropical, with a wet season from May to November and a dry season from December to April. The lush vegetation, diverse ecosystems, and abundance of wildlife make Puntarenas a haven for nature lovers. National parks and reserves, such as Manuel Antonio National Park and Corcovado National Park, showcase the incredible biodiversity of the region.


Puntarenas reflects the broader Costa Rican culture, which is known for its warmth, friendliness, and emphasis on “pura vida” (pure life). The city’s cultural identity is shaped by its maritime history, with fishing playing a significant role in the local lifestyle. The annual Carnival of Puntarenas, celebrated in February, is a lively event featuring parades, music, dancing, and traditional costumes, showcasing the vibrant cultural heritage of the region.

Costa Rican cuisine is a blend of indigenous, Spanish, and African influences. In Puntarenas, you can savor delicious seafood dishes, reflecting the city’s coastal location. The traditional “casado” meal, consisting of rice, beans, plantains, salad, and a choice of protein, is a staple in Costa Rican cuisine.

The arts also play a vital role in Puntarenas’ cultural scene. Local artisans produce vibrant crafts, including ceramics, textiles, and woodwork, often inspired by the natural beauty of the region. Music and dance are integral to Costa Rican culture, with traditional genres like salsa, merengue, and cumbia adding a lively rhythm to local celebrations.

In conclusion, Puntarenas, Costa Rica, is a region with a rich history, diverse geography, and a vibrant culture. Its strategic location on the Pacific coast has contributed to its economic significance throughout the centuries, while its natural beauty and warm hospitality make it a captivating destination for both locals and visitors. The fusion of indigenous, Spanish, and African influences is evident in the cuisine, arts, and traditions, creating a unique cultural tapestry that defines Puntarenas’ identity in the larger context of Costa Rican heritage.